“GUYS! You’ve lost me, & cut me loose!” On the final stretch between Largs & Irvine, any incline saw my cycling compadres boost beyond my reach and leave me languishing behind. My cries evaporated behind me blown by the strong ‘into our face’ breeze; but fortunately they eventually noticed and allowed me to catchup and slip back into their slipstream again. And what a difference cycling in a peloton makes as those, immediately in front of you, cut through the wind on your behalf!

It was the tail end of our annual 88 miles 5 ferries challenge, which spins you round the ports of Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochranza, Claonaig, Tarbert, Portavadie, Colintraive, Rhubodach, Rothesay, & Wemyss-Bay, and back to Irvine. Weather wasn’t perfect, but dry apart from a monsoon on Bute, and it is always an epic cycle through stunning Scottish scenery. On this final furrow I was very grateful for strong cyclists Ross & Stewart, willing and able to take the lead and allow me to tuck in behind, literally inches between my front tyre and their back tyre. There is something quite remarkable about how such positioning allows you to almost be towed along by the efforts of those in front! Those who watch the Tour De France will appreciate that such cycling is very much a team sport, where teammates take the lead and allow the teammate, they aim to catapult into the lead, to rest and prepare to ‘go for it’! These guys towing me home were such a blessing and encouragement!

‘Encouragement’ is invaluable in the face of challenge! But how easy it is to shout negative stuff from the pitch side or fail to share a word of encouragement. En Courage literally means to input courage i.e. build up confidence. Put disbefore a word and it drains the positive dry: disincentive removes incentive, disadvantage undercuts advantage, & Discourage empties courage. Younger readers will know that ‘to diss’ someone is to disrespect them, and remove respect.

“God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life… we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 / MSG)

There were ‘courage sapping’ spots on the long steep hills when we had to really get in the zone and pound peddles to the top. At such points, were someone snapping and sniping, “You’re going to fail! You’re doomed!” the job would be doubly hard. What makes the challenge easier is not being alone, mutual encouragement and patience.

Here’s a mystery, within God’s being is a team of encouragement, comfort, and challenge, ‘Team Trinity’. When God’s Son Jesus Christ endured excruciating death on our behalf, Father and Spirit were right there feeling the pain together with Son Christ, bearing the load as One Team, striving together to win for us Deliverance and Eternal Life. TEAM was certainly at work that day, as with The 5 Ferries crew. Who are you teaming up with?